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May 24, 2024

Shelby County – Contracts Matter….or Do They?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On September 2, 2023

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

The Shelby County Board held a special meeting this week for the purpose of approving a 3-month budget due to their transitioning to a new fiscal year. The video of the meeting is from their camera however due to what we believe is a battery issue with the microphone, parts of the audio were not captured.  We wonder if the board will face allegations of manipulation of the audio similar to the allegations slung at us when similar technical hiccups take place.

Special meetings are bound to discussion only pertaining to the business listed on the agenda which in this case was, “Discussion and vote on Approval of 3-month budget ordinance”.

As soon as the motion to approve the budget was second, the first discussion was not about approving the budget but rather complaints that according to Tad Mayhall, the stopping of the premium pay in the FOP Memorandum of Understanding is quite a shock to the Sheriff employees.  Considering the MOU has been available to them since adoption we can only assume they have not read the terms of the agreement.

Mayhall stated that “the MOU, all would agree could be written better”.  We note that the MOU was prepared by the former State’s Attorney’s office and we agree, that it was poorly written. In fact, the county was warned by Bellwether, their ARPA consultant, that this was going to be a problem down the road.

During the discussion, it became crystal clear Mayhall’s talking points were well off the subject of the actual budget and had turned into a labor negotiations discussion.  Such a discussion violates the Open Meetings Act because this was a special meeting that is bound to different discussion limits than a regular meeting. Chairman Orman and Board member Sonny Ross both spoke about that being a discussion for another day.

The MOU that included numerous financial perks to the FOP members should have ended in May when the Emergency Pandemic status in the state was ended.  The only reason it did not end at that time is because the Sheriff began negotiations with the FOP.  As long as negotiations are taking place the status quo stays in place.  While we do not know why negotiations hit an impasse, we understand that was the case and once an impasse is declared, the terms of the MOU must be followed.  That is why the extra $6.00 an hour in pay is not going to be in their future paychecks, as they agreed to when the MOU was passed back in 2021.  It’s called following the contract as well as the law.

Of interest in the discussion, it appears a couple of board members want this pay to continue because if it does not they will face losing deputies.  That was the argument used in the adoption of the MOU in 2021.  Do they realize that if such pay does continue, they face losing deputies?

It is our understanding that the board has been advised that the overall financial condition of the county will not support these wages and considering the tax levy limitations due to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), in Shelby County, there would come a point where people would have to be let go for the simple fact they do not have the revenue to pay them.  We have seen this happen in other communities and people end up being laid off because they can’t afford the pay structure demanded.

The MOU states. “(9) Non-Precedent Setting: This agreement is without precedent or prejudice and may not be used in any way in future actions, for any reason, except for the enforcement of its terms.” (emphasis added)

It appears Mayhall is using the MOU premium pay, which the FOP agreed would terminate, as a justification for further negotiations.  The plain reading of the MOU states it “may not be used in any way in future actions, for any reason, except for the enforcement of its terms.”

We believe this whole discussion about the MOU and what is or is not right was in fact a violation of the Open Meetings Act and should have been done at another time.

The board did adopt the 3-month budget ordinance.


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